Essays on books.
rnold upon the glorious "Lays," where he calls out "is this poetry?" after quoting--
"And how can man die better Than facing fearful odds For the ashes of his fathers And the Temples of his Gods?"
In trying to show that Macaulay had not the poetic sense he was really showing that he himself had not the dramatic sense. The baldness of the idea and of the language had evidently offended him. But this is exactly where the true merit lies. Macaulay is giving the rough, blunt words with which a simple-minded soldier appeals to two comrades to help him in a deed of valour. Any high-flown sentiment would have been absolutely out of character. The lines are, I think, taken with their context, admirable ballad poetry, and have just the dramatic quality and sense which a ballad poet must have. That opinion of Arnold's shook my faith in his judgment, and yet I would forgive a good deal to the man who wrote--
"One more charge and then be dumb, When the forts of Folly fall, May the victors when they c